How to add a comment to a PDF?

I’ve read over the forums, yet can’t seem to find the answer to this relatively simple question; how do I add a comment to a PDF? I feel that it should be in one of the inspector panes somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it! Any help appreciated.

That kind of depends what you mean by “comment”; you can annotate a PDF using Tools > Annotate; you can add a Finder Comment in the appropriate inspector (⌃3); you can add an annotation (note the difference between annotating a PDF [that is, editing into the PDF] and adding an annotation [that is, taking a note which is stored in a separate but linked record]); you cannot add a comment in the file properties using the appropriate inspector (⌃P), because that property is not available for PDF (and is not offered by Preview or Acrobat for example).

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Thanks for your reply @Blanc. Perhaps it would be easier if I stated my use scenario, then perhaps I could be advised on the best way to achieve this.

Essentially, when reading a PDF in Devonthink I want to be able to type up a note for myself summarising the document in order to remind myself of the relevant points. This would tend to be a fairly short synopsis, perhaps 1-5 paragraphs. I want to have this somewhere in Devonthink where I can see it when I select the document.

Thanks again

As suggested by @Blanc, an annotation file can be made via Tools > Inspectors > Annotations & Reminders.

This is also discussed in Help > Documentation > Inspectors > Annotations & Reminders.

This thread is timely. I’m moving all my caselaw and notes into DT3. So if I wanted to have a place to keep my summaries/notes regarding the caselaw along with the caselaw document, which is stored as PDF, we are saying that a good place to keep those would be in the Finder Comments?

What is the difference between “Finder Comments” and “Annotations”?

What is the difference “Annotations” here and Document/Annotations in the Inspector (i.e. comments and highlights made within the document).

Sorry, I read the documentation, but it is not clear what the pros/cons/differences are between the various options of all I want is a summary of the document stored in the metadata of that document.

Thank you.

Finder comments are plain text attributes and mirrored to the comments in the Finder (see e.g. its Info window). Internally the size of the comments is unlimited but the Finder’s limit is approx. 256 characters. Therefore they’re great for small, unformatted notes which should not be limited to DEVONthink.

Annotations on the other hand are stored in separate documents which support plain/rich text and Markdown (and therefore e.g. cross-linking or linking to pages). See Annotation pop-up menu in the inspector for some possibilities.

Re finder comments, I just read this blog post that is kind of sobering. Seems like another good idea that Apple implemented half-heartedly.

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While DEVONthink mirrors the comment to the Finder comments, it uses actually its own internal storage (e.g. unlimited size, full unicode support etc).

In the light of the article I mentioned, would it be a good idea to also mirror it to, i.e. an extended attribute that avoids the weird (not-)mirroring to .DS_Store? It seems that its contents also appears in the Finder’s info box.

Currently DEVONthink lets the Finder handle this and hopefully this app knows how to do this :slight_smile:

Okay, so these two concepts (Annotations vs Annotation note) are completely unrelated.

I assume that you are talking about the Annotation note box under the “Annotations and Reminders” menu option in the inspector. So, going back to the OP’s original question, if I wanted to have a summary/synopsis of an article in my own words, that is attached to the pdf in the database, this would (could) be a good place to put it?


In case of short & plain summaries even a Finder comment might work. The generic annotations created by this inspector should definitely work.

However, in case of PDF documents there’s another option. You could a PDF text or note annotation to the document (see e.g. editing bar or Tools > Document > Annotate). This will modify the document but is compatible to other apps & platforms too.

Ah, so we have 3 options - finder comments, annotation box or annotation via the tools menu? Which option would be best for storing a few paragraphs of information about a document? I’m not bothered about access to that information outside of Devonthink.

There’s no best option, each has its own ad- and disadvantages and therefore it depends on the user’s preferences/needs.

Would more of a Zettelkasten approach work for you? An Annotation note works well if you want one note to capture a summary of the facts and the decision but I found it can get gets unwieldy and hard to find things when you have hundreds or more long summary notes dealing with disparate topics.

I find atomic notes work better if what you are wanting to capture is a principle for later citation (because one case can deal with more than one principle - for example, it might state a proposition of contract law, then later an unrelated proposition of trust law or evidence).

I use an Apple Script adapted from this forum triggered from the toolbar when I am reviewing cases. The script can copy a selected passage of text, prompts me to input a short summary of the proposition and creates a markdown note with the proposition, selected passage, case citation and a link back to the decision and brings up the sorter to file the note.

The advantage is that when you go back and curate your notes you can organise the note by topic, group it with other similar notes, create an index card (Tools: Create Table of Contents), use transclusion to add it to an overview of cases that deal with similar propositions etc, not to mention DT’s search capabilities. It’s an area where DT shines IMHO.

Not the question you asked, I know, but I saw that you were moving your caselaw and notes into DT and thought I would share what has worked for me in case it is of some use.

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